(CMC) — St Lucia health authorities said today that they are investigating two dengue-related deaths and appealed to the public to seek immediate medical attention if they show symptoms associated with the mosquito-borne disease.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health and Wellness said the two individuals, about whom it gave no details, were seen and managed at the Owen King European Union Hospital (OKEUH), where they presented with a clinical picture consistent with dengue fever.
It said that all the samples were tested locally for dengue virus and were also sent to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for confirmation.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness awaits these confirmatory results. To date, St Lucia has recorded one confirmed dengue-related death and is investigating two new dengue-related deaths. As of October 3, a total of 540 confirmed cases have been recorded,” the statement said.
It said that the mean age of cases is 19 years, with an age range from three weeks to 84 years, noting that the age group five to 14 years accounts for approximately 38 per cent of cases.
The health authorities said that 49 per cent of confirmed cases occurred during the month of August, with both serotypes two and three continuing to be in circulation.
They said that while all teh health regions have reported cases of dengue fever, the highest prevalence continues to be reported in the northern part of the island, with Castries, Gros Islet and Babonneau accounting for 34, 17 and eight per cent of cases respectively.
“The public is reminded that with both dengue serotypes two and three in circulation, the likelihood of persons presenting with the severe form of dengue fever is increased. In its mild form, dengue fever may present with fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains and a red itchy rash,” the statement said, adding that there are several warning signs of which persons need to be aware.
It said these include intense and continuous abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding from the gums or nose, blood in the urine or vomit, or dark-coloured stool as well as restlessness or drowsiness and an enlarged liver.
“Persons presenting with these warning signs should immediately seek medical attention. There is no specific treatment for dengue fever and management is supportive based on presenting signs and symptoms,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the ministry pointed out that dengue fever requires a vector for the spread to the disease.
“The control of the mosquito population is therefore dependent on the elimination of breeding sites. The public is asked to assist in the control of dengue fever,” it urged.